Joining the Community
A call to join a monastic community comes from God. Some receive a very distinct, definite call. For others, it is not always so clear, and may take some time to discern. Usually such a call is accompanied by a desire to give one's life totally to God, along with some attraction to monastic life. In our Order, even though there may be an attraction to the traditions or spirit of the Order, usually the call is to a specific monastery. For more information please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org or in Norwegian, please refer to our other site: www.tautra.no .
Stages of Formation
Observer- Postulant - Novice--Junior Sister - Solemn Professed Sister
When a young women first enquires about our community, she is encouraged to come for a two-week visit. Eventually, when she has a serious interest in the community, she is allowed to come and live inside with us for a period of three months, called obersvership. She has no obligations to the community at this time (and is free to keep her present employment if they allow her this sabbatical time,) just as the community has no obligation to her. This is simply a period to "come and see."
If all goes well, and it does seem that God is calling her to our community, and it appears a "good fit," she will eventually enter the postulancy. This is really an entrance into the community. This period is open ended and could last for some months or more than a year. At the end of that time, she would receive the habit of a Cistercian nun, but all in white, in a simple ceremony. This period lasts for two years. At the end of this time, if through the discernment process, it seems that God is really calling her to this community, she would receive the black scapular, and the leather belt, in a ceremony where she pronounces her first vows. She then becomes a Junior Sister and assumes more responsibility for the community work, as well as in the liturgical functions.
She is a Junior Sister for a number of years, at least five and possibly up to nine years. During this time, she does more intensive studies to prepare her for our life. These includes many topics such as the Rule of Benedict, the Desert Father tradition, Church History, History of the Order, and many others. These studies can continue even after Solemn profession. Eventually, when a Sister discerns that God is truly calling her to live the rest of her life in this particular community, she asks to be admitted to Solemn Profession. When accepted, there follows an elaborate ceremony where she pronounces her Solemn Vows, promising to live in this community for the rest of her life. She is no longer free to leave the community after this long time of probation. This is a total gift of her life to God and the community.